Where’s your citizenship? And why is it even important? Also, have you ever given this topic much thought?
“Whoever Brings Blessing Will be Enriched” Proverbs 11:25
Bless Online Discipleship For Women
A CITIZEN OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION
For the first 24 years of my life, I lived in Kursk, Russia, on Uhtomskogo Street.
Growing up during the crush of USRR, I was on the receiving end of all patriotic books, songs, and poetry we were obligated to memorize and recite regularly at my school #36 on Stanzionnaua Street.
Being a citizen of “Mother Russia” was something I took a pride in and thought my home country took me as seriously as I took it.
I left Russia on July 31st of 2008 and followed the man I fell in love with to his home country, the United States of America.
I arrived that same day, after 13 hours of flying, because I flew back in time. And I stepped on this land (I live in America) on July 31st of 2008.
Eight days later, the man I married started abusing me and treating me like a slave.
I wrote an article about my entire journey from domestic violence to homeless and then an MBA. You can read it here.
Also, there was a story about it on WSB TV and you can watch it here.
I called and begged the Representives of Russia to help me in my dangerous and scary domestic violence situation.
And there was no help.
You can understand why I haven’t been back to Russia. I quickly realized in that situation exactly what I meant to my home country. Nothing.
A CITIZEN OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
I escaped my abusive marriage and was delivered by the police to a shelter for victims of domestic violence in Stone Mountain, GA.
I was now homeless, hopeless, and helpless, in a foreign country, without speaking the language.
I felt abandoned and lonely.
But Americans came together to help me.
Atlanta Legal Aid Society spent a year on obtaining my divorce from that man. The agency charged me zero dollars.
The Women’s Resource Center to End Domestic Violence helped me with my restraining order and emotional support. The agency charged nothing for its help.
Immigration Legal Services of Catholic Charities worked for a year to help me get my immigration together. I was awarded i-360. It’s also known as VAWA: Violence Against Women Application. The agency did all their work at no cost to me.
And from there, very quickly I was eligible for American citizenship.
A dream come true! Right?
Well… I took a few years to examine my heart. Taking American citizenship meant giving up Russian citizenship.
Not an easy choice, even after all that I shared here.
In 2016, I did walk into the naturalization office and stood there with my hand on my heart pleading loyalty to the United States of America.
It was a genuine decision. It was an emotional day. It was so special. It was an honor.
America is my home. And I belong here.
The very reason why I finally gave up my Russian passport and accepted the honor of an American passport is the feeling of peace and my deep sense of belonging.
I belong here.
A CITIZEN OF HEAVEN
In 2018, a few women at my church and I began studying the Armor of God by Persilla Shirer.
During the study, she placed a strong accent on the fact that we were seated with Christ in heavenly places and our citizenship as followers of Jesus is in heaven.
Ephesians 2:6 says this:
“For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.”
Have you ever thought about this? Seated with Christ in heavenly places…
I was astonished. It was the first time I heard anyone talk about this.
Philippians 3:20 says:
“But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives.”
Wow! That took my thinking about the topic of citizenship to a whole new level.
Where do I truly belong? And what does it actually mean to be a good citizen?
When I was in school growing up, I was taught what it means to be a citizen of the Russian Federation.
When I was studying for my naturalization test here, I was taught what it means to be a citizen of the United States of America.
But what exactly does it mean to be a citizen of heaven?
Philippians 1:27 explains:
“Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News.”
The apostle Paul wrote this in his letter to Philippians from prison.
He wasn’t worried about his passport or birth certificate. He was talking about faith, unity, and Christ-honoring behaviors as the indicators demonstrating one’s heavenly citizenship.
Among the behaviors Paul discussed in his letter was the most important one – contentment.
Paul was in prison. His entire existence was in the hands of people providing donations for him. And here’s how he explains what contentment means.
Philippians 4:11 says this:
“Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.”
There are strikes and hatred among the citizens of Russia. Growing up there, I witnessed what discontent produces: anger, violence, and division among people.
There are strikes and hatred among the citizens of America. Living here for over a decade, I witnessed what discontent produces: anger, violence, and division among people.
But heavenly citizenship calls us to unity, faith, and contentment. This is my kind of citizenship. I love it!
I was so honored to receive the American passport handed to me in 2016 in Forsyth Co, GA. But I was even more honored to discover my heavenly citizenship in 2018 when my women’s group studied the topic and dove deep into its meaning.
I have accepted Jesus as my lord and savior. I am seated with Him in heavenly places.
My citizenship is in heaven?
What about yours?
Have you accepted your heavenly citizenship? According to Paul, the only requirement is “conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ.”
Are you ready to live a life of peace, non-violence, unity, faithfulness, and contentment?
If you said “Yes!” memorize the Biblical affirmation below and practice it daily to remember where you truly belong.
I am a citizen of heaven.
I am a citizen of heaven
Where Jesus Christ lives.
There’s nothing I dream of having –
To me satisfaction and contentment He gives.
How do you plan to use your heavenly citizenship? Let me know in the comments below.
If this devotional was helpful, download all #52Devotionals now.
Anna Szabo is the founder of Online Discipleship For Women, a Christian ministry committed to alleviating suicide among women globally by sharing hope in Christ. Anna teaches how to create a joyful life by embracing God’s word based on her own journey of faith and fortitude.
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